Whenever our children are in pain, this is an anxious moment for any parent. We want to help them straight away.
What are Growing Pains?
But when it comes to growing pains, this is often just a normal part of growing up. Respected Podiatrist Angela Evans sums it up well – growing pains are non-specific leg pains which affect otherwise healthy and normal children.
Many of us have experienced growing pains as a child? After all, up to 50% of children are affected by it! Growing pains is a common condition in which parents define their child’s aches and pains; but what is the true diagnoses?
Several theories have been thought to contribute to the cause of growing pains. But what we see most often is a case of over-use of muscles in the leg of active children.
We know as Children grow, the bones of the feet and legs grow quicker than their muscles and tendons. This alone places increased stress of muscles and joints. And then as a result of being active, added forces are applied that make the body sore.
Diagnosing Growing Pains in Children
So how do you know when your child has growing pains vs. something more serious?
A diagnosis of growing pains can be made via process of inclusion criteria and exclusion of other suspected conditions.
- intermittent pain in muscles, mostly during the late afternoon or evenings and some pain-free days
- pain in both limbs, but clinical examination can’t pinpoint a logical or obvious cause
Exclusions (and what makes us think about other conditions):
- persistent pain in joints, all day and into the night
- pain in one limb, and signs of swelling, redness, tenderness, infection, decreased range of motion or limping
- diagnoses of a specific conditions (other than growing pains) by x-ray, bone scan, MRI
Treating Growing Pains
If your child has growing pains, how do we treat them?
Different treatment options for growing are still under trial, however, muscle stretching and in-shoe wedging are believed to have the best evidence. Following these are other management strategies such as heat therapy, massage, vitamin supplements and paracetamol.
A Podiatrist with experience in treating children is often the best person to provide advice if growing pains are suspected in the foot or leg. If doubting the diagnoses of growing pains, we can refer the child and parent for diagnostic testing, or onto another specialist such as a GP and physiotherapist.